Remembering Christine Matyear
Communication Sciences and Disorders Senior Lecturer was respected and loved by students and colleagues
Christine Louise Matyear, senior lecturer in the College of Communication's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, passed away on Oct. 4 after her short battle with ovarian cancer.
Matyear worked at The University of Texas at Austin since 1992 – first as a research associate in the College of Liberal Arts' Department of Linguistics, then as a lecturer and senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She taught phonetics, hearing science, speech science and research. Her research interests included speech acquisition in infants and the acoustic analysis of speech sounds.
Colleagues and students said they would remember Matyear for her enthusiasm, kindness and sense of humor.
"Chris was such a dear friend who filled the shoes of a big sister for me," said Dana Woolf, CSD department manager and graduate office coordinator. "She always brought joy and happiness to those around her. Her colleagues enjoyed her savvy wit, her daily humor and her caring spirit."
Students often commented that Matyear inspired them to stay excited about a career path in Communication Sciences and Disorders. On any given day, there would be a long line of students outside Matyear's office, hoping to speak to her during office hours. Matyear also advised the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association's College chapter, receiving the chapter's Teacher of the Year Award several times.
"Chris' enthusiasm for teaching and zest for the academic life were both infectious and boundless," said Craig Champlin, CSD chair. "She had high expectations of herself, students and colleagues – her bar was a high one and we loved her for that. Chris was consistently positive and solution-oriented, which made her a department chair's best friend. Her contributions to the department, college and university are immeasurable. I miss her deeply."
"Chris was a personal friend and treasured colleague of mine," said Barbara Davis, CSD professor. "Moreover, she was a consummate teacher and an ongoing asset to The University of Texas at Austin. Her students valued her both for her ability to make complex material about their profession understood and for her generous humanity to them as individuals."
Matyear presented her research at professional conferences, including the Penn State Conference on Composition and Rhetoric, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, the Child Phonology Conference, Conference on The Ontogeny and Phylogeny of Syllable Organization, the University of Barcelona and the International Conference on Phonetic Sciences.
Her work was published in Phonetica, Applied Sociolinguistics Speech Communication, Journées d'Etudes sur la Parole, Child Development, Psychological Science and Speech Communication. She also worked in conjunction with IBM Corporation to improve training procedures for computer-assisted clinical techniques in speech, language and hearing.
In addition to teaching at The University of Texas at Austin, she taught online courses through NOVA University and University of Nebraska.
Before joining The University of Texas at Austin, Matyear taught courses in advanced writing and research and general linguistics at the University of Houston-Victoria. Previously, she co-founded a printing business, worked as a substitute teacher in the public school system and led the La Leche League of Corpus Christi.
One of the first seven women to attend Texas A&M University, she earned a bachelor's degree in humanities (1979) and a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies (1985) from the University of Houston-Victoria. She completed her Ph.D. in Linguistics (1997) at The University of Texas at Austin.
Outside of work, Matyear loved cats, competing in Glock pistol shooting matches, traveling and being a grandmother to her four grandchildren. She is survived by her life companion, George Richard (Dick) Polk, her daughters, Laura Matyear Florence and Jennifer Matyear-Hillhouse and several other family members and friends.
Friends, students and colleagues are cordially invited to a reception celebrating her life at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 at Texas Women's Federation of Clubs Mansion, 2312 San Gabriel St. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to NSSLHA - Dr. Christine Matyear Memorial Fund (payable to NSSLHA), c/o Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2504 Whitis Ave (A1100), Austin, TX 78712-1074, Hospice-Austin, Caringbridge.org, or your favorite charity.
Laura Byerley, (512) 471-2182